13 Must-See And Best Castles in Scotland

In Scotland, there’s history, culture and magnificent structure everywhere you look. These are best represented by the many castles in Scotland; from the highlands to the lowlands, in the capital city, even perched on cliffs or surrounded by water.

Most are centuries old, some are inhabited and some are in ruins. A lot are imposing and rugged, there are those that are interestingly flamboyant and opulent. Some are fairytale-like, while others are old and foreboding.

There’s just a lot of them so it isn’t easy to pick just a handful if you’ll spend days visiting these stunning places, but here are a few suggestions on the best castles in Scotland to help you.

13 Must-See And Best Castles in Scotland

1. Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle Scotland

Stirling Castle is the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots and known as one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland. It stands on a volcanic rock on the border between the Highlands and the Lowlands.

A powerful fortress, Stirling Castle was at the center of Scotland’s wars of independence, between 1296 and 1356. It was also the scene of William Wallace’s victory over the English at Stirling Bridge, where you can see a monumental statue of Wallace.

An easy trip from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, Stirling Castle is quite an entertaining place to visit. You’ll come across costumed characters in historic roles on the grounds. If you have kids with you, they can dress up in period costumes and play medieval instruments.

Opening Hours

The castle opens daily at 9:30 am. Closing time varies seasonally. So make sure to double check. Below are the current opening hours for winter and summer.

Summer                   Closing Time         Last entry

1 Apr – 30 Sept           6 pm                        5:15 pm

Winter                      Closing Time         Last entry

1 Oct – 31 Mar             5 pm                        4:15 pm

Admission Fee

Valid from 1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020

Category                   On-site price         Advance purchase price

Adult (16 – 59 yrs)                 £16.00             £15.00

Child (5 – 15 yrs)                     £9.60              £9.00

60 yrs+/ unemployed)       £12.80             £12.00

Contact Information

Address:  Stirling Castle, Castle Esplanade, Stirling, FK8 1EJ

Phone: +44 (0)1786 450 000

2. Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle Scotland

Perhaps the most famous (and most visited) castle in Scotland is right in the center of the capital city. A recognizable feature in the Edinburgh’s skyline, this structure towers lover the famous Royal Mile. Perched on an extinct volcano, it has been occupied by Romans, Celtic warriors, Northumbrians, and Scots.

The oldest section of the castle dates back to the 12th century, and many visitors travel here specifically to see the Crown Jewels of Scotland. The Edinburgh Castle is also home to the St Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh; Mons Meg, a massive 15th-century cannon; several military museums; the Royal Palace of the Scottish kings, and views that stretch across the city beyond the Firth of Forth.

Opening Hours

Daily from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM

Admission Fee

Ticket type                                           Gate price          Online price

Adult (16-59yrs)                                           £19.50               £17.50

Concession (60yrs+ and unemployed)* £16.00               £14.00

Child (5-15yrs)                                             £11.50                £10.50

Contact Information

Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, UK

Phone: +44 131 225 9846

3. Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle Scotland

Dark and dramatic, perched on a cliff overlooking the northeast coast of Scotland, Dunnottar Castle is simply breathtaking. Located around 3 kilometers South of the pretty harbor town of  Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, getting to Dunnottar Castle involves a steep hike up. But once you’re there, the medieval ruins tell captivating stories dating back to the Early Middle Ages.

Wander around and enjoy the scenery, marvel at the ocean waves lap against the steep cliffs. After exploring, walk the coastal path along the cliffs to Stonehaven, and enjoy a hearty meal at one of the harbor front pubs.

Opening Hours

Daily from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Admission Fee

Adult Ticket: £7

Child Price: £3

Family Ticket: £17

Group Ticket (20+): £6

Season Pass (1 Year): £18

Senior Citizen: £7

Student Ticket: £7

Contact Information

Address: Stonehaven AB39 2TL, UK

Phone:  +44 1569 766320

4. Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle scotland

Glamis Castle (pronounced glahms) is located about 70 miles northeast of Edinburgh. Built around 1400, the site’s colorful history goes back much further. The murder of King Malcolm II, and his replacement by Macbeth, in 1040, was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play.

Glamis Castle was the childhood home of the Queen Mother and the birthplace of Princess Margaret. It is also still the family home of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland, set amid green trees and grass. When you come to visit,  enjoy a walk in the formal gardens or take a guided tour of the historic rooms.

Opening Hours

Daily from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM

Admission Fee

Adult                                                          £15.50

Senior (60+) / Student                          £12.00

Child (5 – 16 years old)                          £10.00

Family (2 adults + max 3 children)     £50.00

Contact Information

Address: Angus DD8 1RJ, UK

Phone: +44 1307 840393

5. Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle Scotland

The elaborate Inveraray Castle has been the seat of the Dukes of Argyll, chiefs of Clan Campbell since the 18th century. Located in western Scotland on the shore of Loch Fyne, this castle has a fairytale facade with an enchanting interior.  Inveraray Castle is one of the earliest examples of Gothic Revival architecture style in Scotland.

Set in a massive 60,000-acre estate, the castle has a lovely 16-acre garden. The 13th Duke of Argyll still resides in a part of the castle with his family, but it is still open to the public. Check out the tea room for a glimpse into royal life. Inveraray Castle was also one of the settings for the TV series “Downton Abbey” and fans might recognize it from the season 3 Christmas episode.

Opening Hours

Daily at 10 AM to 5 PM

Admission Fee

2019 Admission Prices

Castle & Gardens Group Rate *
Adults £12.50 £10.00
Senior Citizens £11.00 £8.80
Students (on production of student card) £11.00 £8.80
Schools £6.00
Children (under 16) £8.00 £6.40
Family Ticket (2 Adults & 2 or more children) £35.00
Chidren (under 5) Free
Gardens Only Admission £5.00
Coach/Car Park charge per vehicle (for non-Castle visitors) £3.00 **

Contact Information

Address: Inveraray PA32 8XE, UK

Phone: +44 1499 302203

6. Caerlaverock Castles

Caerlaverock Castle Scotland

Caerlaverock is regarded as among the most powerful-looking castles in the world due to its triangular shape, with imposing sandstone walls and a tower or two at each corner. A genuine Medieval stronghold, the castle was built during the mid-13th century by the Maxwell clan. Set within a nature reserve, Caerlaverock is surrounded by a wide, deep moat. Travelers who want to see it up close and explore will find it near Glencaple in Dumfries & Galloway.

Another feature of this castle is the 17th-century residence that was built for the family inside the castle walls which can still be admired for its elaborate Renaissance details.

Opening Hours

1 April to 30 September:
Daily, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
Last entry at 5 pm

1 October to 31 March:
Daily, 10 am to 4 pm
Last entry at 3.30 pm

Admission Fee

Member/Explorer Pass holder: FREE
Adult: £6.00
Concession: £4.80
Child aged 5-15: £3.60
Child under 5: FREE

Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Concession price: this applies if you can show proof that you’re aged 60+ or unemployed.

Contact Information

Address: Caerlaverock, Dumfries DG1 4RU, UK

Phone: +44 1387 770244

7. Duart Castle

Duart Castle Scotland

Perched upon a hill overlooking the Sound of Mull, Duart Castle was part of the dowry of the bride of a Scottish chief back in the mid 14th century. Ruined in the late 18th century, it was restored in 1911. For the last 400 years, it has been the seat of the Maclean clan.

A visit to the castle not only lets you enjoy the surroundings but the structure’s interiors as well. Check out the magnificent Great Hall, State Bedroom & Dressing Room, as well as the Clan Exhibition. You can also walk through the dungeons and admire the castle’s strategic position at the end of a peninsula of the Isle of Mull.

Opening Hours

Daily from 10:30 AM to 5 PM

Admission Fee

Adult £7.50
Child (5-15yrs) £4.00
Family (2 adults + 2 children (5-15yrs)) £19.00
Seniors and students £6.50

Contact Information

Address: Isle of Mull PA64 6AP, UK

Phone: +44 1680 812309

8. Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle Scotland

This 13th-century castle in the middle of a loch is one of the most iconic in Scotland. One of the most picturesque attractions in the country, Eilean Donan looks out toward the Isle of Skye and connected to the mainland via a footbridge. Rugged and dramatic, this 13th-century fortress has become a sort of a symbol of the Western Highlands.

Eilean Donan was first built as a fortified island, then it was destroyed in a Jacobite rebellion of 1719. The castle that we see today was built between 1911 and 1932 by Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap, according to surviving ground plans of earlier buildings. Often featured in television and movies, Eilean Donan offers visitors a visit to the rooms to see period furniture, artifacts, and weaponry.

Opening Hours

Every day 1st Feb – 23rd March
10.00am – 4.00pm
(Last Admission 3.00pm

24th March – 26th Oct
10.00am – 6.00pm
(Last Admission 5.00pm)

For an updated schedule, click here.

Admission Fee

Adults
£10.00 (inclusive of Audio Guide)

Concessions (Seniors Aged 60+)
£9.00 (inclusive of Audio Guide)

Family (2 Adults + 3 Children Age 5-15)
£29.00 (inclusive of Audio Guide)

Children over 5
£6.00 (inclusive of Audio guide)

Under 5s
FREE (No audio guide provided)

Contact Information

Address: Kyle of Lochalsh IV40 8DX Scotland

Phone: 01599 555202

9. Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle

Rising above lush gardens and overlooking the coast of Firth of Clyde. Culzean Castle was built in the late 18th century. It was originally an L-plan castle, but the 10th Earl of Cassilis had it rebuilt into a more dazzling country house. Today, it is a stunning example of a fairytale-like structure with turrets and battlements, stationed above the stormy seas and surrounded by gardens and forests.

Beneath the castle, visitors (especially during summer)  to the castle will discover a complex of sea caves. The Culzean Castle is also featured on the back of the 5-pound note issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Opening Hours

Castle Open: 30 March to 27 October, 10.30 am – 5 pm (last entry 4:30pm).
Country Park: Open all year, daily

Admission Fee

Adults £16.50
Family £41.00
1 adult family £32.25

Contact Information

Address: Maybole KA19 8LE, UK

Phone: +44 1655 884455

10. Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle

Built in the 4th century, Cawdor Castle is one of  Scotland’s most enchanting castles. This castle is owned and occupied by members of the Cawdor family — sometimes spelled Calder in Scotland. Cawdor Castle is known for its fairy-tale edifice, its dramatic history and romantic gardens, parts of which are over 300 years old. Inside, the castle is home to a small but remarkable personal collection of art consisting of 20th-century paintings, drawings, and sculpture, as well as old furniture. The cellars, meanwhile, still has the ancient, living thorn tree around which the castle’s original tower was built.

Opening Hours

Saturday 13th April to Sunday 6th October inclusive
Open seven days a week, 10 am to 5.30pm (last admission at 5 pm)

Admission Fee

Adults – Castle, http://tramadolfeedback.com Gardens, Grounds and Nature Trails all inclusive £12.50
Concessions £11.50
Children (aged 5 to 15) £7.50
Student (with valid
student ID)
£11.50
Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 5 children aged 5 to 15) £35.00

Contact Information

Address: B9090, Cawdor, Nairn IV12 5RD, UK

Phone: +44 1667 404401

11. Floors Castle

Floors Castle

Floors Castle is the largest inhabited castle in Scotland, that sits in a 50,000-acre estate that is also farmed and hosts a successful stud. It is located in Kelso in the heart of the Scottish Borders and overlooks the River Tweed and Cheviot Hills. Built in 1721, Floors Castle is technically never a castle in the sense of a defensive stronghold. It is simply the incredibly flamboyant home of the Dukes of Roxburgh.

Floors is the largest inhabited castle in Scotland and home to the Duke and Duchess of Roxburgh and their family.

The castle has a massive art collection, antiques and known for its splendid interior. An interesting feature of the castle grounds is the holly tree that is said to mark the spot where King James II was killed in a siege in 1460. Floors Castle is a family friendly place that’s open to the public from May to October.

Opening Hours

19th April to 30th September 10.30 am to 5 pm

October (weekends only) 10.30 am to 5 pm

Admission Fee

ADULT Castle, Gardens & Grounds admission £11.50

Gardens & Grounds £6.50 Annual Pass £20.00

CHILD Castle, Gardens & Grounds admission £6.00

Gardens & Grounds £3.50 Annual Pass £10.00

FAMILY (2 adults & up to 3 children) Castle, Gardens & Grounds admission £29.00

Gardens & Grounds £16.00 Annual Pass £45.00

Contact Information

Address: Roxburghe Estates Office, Kelso TD5 7SF, UK

Phone: +44 1573 223333

12. Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle

One of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Scotland, Dunrobin Castle might remind you of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in a Disney theme park. Resembling a French chateâu thanks to the towering conical spires, Dunrobin is the most northerly great house in Scotland. It has been around since the 14th century and has been the family seat of the Earls of Sutherland and Clan Sutherland. This French and Gothic Revival inspired house has a total of 189 rooms and perched amidst a stunning landscape above walled gardens overlooking the North Sea. Since people actually still live here, Dunrobin Castle is open to the public from April to October.

Opening Hours

April, May, & October

Daily 10.30 am – 4.30 pm
Last entry is 4.00pm

June, July, August & September

Daily 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Last entry is 4.30pm

Admission Fee

Adults              £12.00      Senior                 £10.00

Children           £7.50        Student              £10.00

Family           £35.00 (2 Adults + up to 3 Children)

Contact Information

Address: Golspie, Sutherland, KW10 6SF, Scotland

Email: info@dunrobincastle.co.uk

Phone: +44 (0)1408 633177

13. Castle Stalker

Castle Stalker

Castle Stalker is Stalcaire in Gaelic which means Hunter or Falconer and also nicknamed C. Stalky. This centuries-old tower house sits dramatically on a small island at the mouth of Loch Laich, an inlet of Loch Linnhe, on the west coast of Scotland. It is believed to have originally been the site of a Fortalice (a small fortified building) belonging to the MacDougalls when they were Lords of Lorn and built around 1320. Its current shape though was built around the 1440s.

It is a tall, massive and simple tower, rectangular in plan, with four stories and a garret. Castle Stalker was featured in the cult classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is now privately-owned but open to visitors by booking in advance.

Opening Hours

Opening hours vary so please check their calendar here.

Admission Fee

£20 for adults

£10 for children under 16

Family Tickets available for £50 ( 2 adults and up to 3 children )

Contact Information

Address: Appin PA38 4BL, UK

Phone: +44 1631 740315

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